The Avalanches aren’t prolific with their output by any stretch. Their sophomore studio album, Wildflower was sixteen years in the making after their critically acclaimed debut. We Will Always Love You was unexpectedly prompt in its arrival in comparison.
Released at the start of last December, when annual top tens and best-ofs are at the top of the agenda, their latest album made a quiet entrance, but with a 70-minute playtime and a star-studded tracklist it’s well worth a listen.
Where Since I Left You came with a continental party vibe, and its follow up provided a sugary, colourful cartoon energy, We Will Always Love You is harder to place. The title track, featuring Blood Orange, is a slow, gliding start to the album, with lush bass and dazzling arpeggios backing a hypnotic vocal line. “The Divine Chord”, which follows, kicks things up a gear with a bright, twinkling hook and a substantial mood change. You’ll find a few of these pace changers too, as when personal favourite “We Go On” launches into the treacly Tricky collab “Until Daylight Comes”.
Features are a big part of this new album. While Wildflower listed additional work from the likes of DOOM, Danny Brown, and Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala fame), We Will Always Love You has upfront, credited features on more than two-thirds of the full-length tracks. Alongside previously mentioned artists, Sampa the Great and Denzel Curry appear together on piano-driven “Take Care In Your Dreaming”. Jamie XX appears with Neneh Cherry and CLYPSO on vocals for a mid-album highlight in “Wherever You Go”.
These are cracking tracks and among my favourites, but I wonder if some character has been lost with more collaboration. We’ve seen this before with far starker consequences when Gorillaz introduced a vast list of collaborators for 2017’s Humanz and, consequently, forgot to save any space for themselves. I don’t think The Avalanches have run into the same pitfall here, but it teeters on the edge as some tracks sound more like an Avalanches feature than their own music.
Nitpick aside, this is another round of fun electronic music wrapped together with class production and catchy riffs. It’s an album that seems to keep going and yet avoids any clock-watching as a listener. Quite the opposite in fact, as I’ve returned straight to the top for another listen upon hearing the beeps and bloops of the album’s closer. It’s great to see the group return so soon with an album I’ll likely be enjoying for some time, and I heartily recommend taking a listen if you haven’t already.